tv [untitled] July 10, 2012 2:30am-3:00am EDT
subjects and produced several documentaries. a previous book he wrote, "money, greed, and god" received the temple on the award in 2010. this book also had a significant impact on my education in economics by giving an understandable approach for the moral argument for free markets and showed that all you really need to know about free markets and economics you learned in kindergarten. i won't reveal the secret. you can ask him about that afterwards. when dr. richards isn't appearing on "larry king live," lecturing members of the u.s. congress or producing documentaries, he is a contributing editor of the american, which is a publication of the american enterprise institute. he is a visiting fellow at the heritage foundation, a research fellow at the acton institute. he is here today with co-author james robison of their latest book "indivisible: restoring faith, family, and freedom before it's too late." today our society is riddled
with fatherless homes and a national debt on the brink of $16 trillion, and a government that has grown increasingly out of control. to quote dr. richards, today we are fight agriculture war, not a civil war. a culture war is unlike ordinary political debates. it's a fight over the fundamental principles on which cultures are based, end quote. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming dr. jay richards. [ applause ] >> welt, it's wonderful to be here. i'm now at the discovery institute in seattle, but have been at a number of think tanks actually throughout my career. and i'm a little intimidated. try to put yourself in my shoes. so we've heard from governors. we've heard from glenn beck. we've heard from some amazing speakers. and now you're going to hear from a philosopher who is going to use slides, right? that's sort of the basic story.
i honestly felt like something important was supposed to happen here this weekend. a couple weeks ago i had given a speech and lost my voice right after that and didn't have a voice for several days. that finally worked its way out. and then last tuesday, just before i was to come down here, i threw out my back. i could barely stand. i spent two days down at summit ministries earlier in the week in colorado springs with a the fires were. i thought gosh, there is so much opposition. i feel like i have to get down to colorado. and i got to tell you. the energy in this room is spectacular. i spend most of my time in seattle right in the city. and so you can imagine if you're a conservative christian in seattle. if you don't get out to things like this frequently, you start to think well maybe i'm the one that is crazy, you know. but this book "indivisible," what we want to do in it is actually in the title. james robison and i are convinced that conservatives, if we learn to work together and learn to think together and commit ourselves to a
foundational set of principles can still turn the culture around. the problem is, of course, is that there are a lot of things that want to separate us. all of us part of the conservative movement knows for instance that conservatism is often described as a three-legged stool, right. this is a common way of describing conservatism. the idea of a three-legged stool is there are three coalitions that come together in the american conservative movement there is fiscal conservatives. so those are the people that are interested in limited government, free markets, government doing a few things and otherwise staying out of our lives. social conservatives who are concerned about cultural issues, but also concerned these days especially these days about questions of life, abortion, euthanasia, questions about marriage and family, questions about religious freedom. and those are often called social conservatives. and then the third leg you can sort of call foreign policy conservatives, just people that believe we ought to have a muscular foreign policy and a powerful defense. that's one of the core competences of the government. and so these three ideas, these
three sort of strands supposedly come together to form the conservative movement. now the media loves this description because it makes it sound like conservatism is essentially a marriage of convenience, right. it's three different disparate groups of people that don't actually agree amongst themselves but have different world views. since there are three it would be like a polygamist marriage of convenience. that's the idea a lot of folks want to believe about the conservative movement. and there are intellectual tensions, unfortunately. and the one tension i want to talk about this morning -- really two is this tension that we heard about already. is there really a fundamental contradiction between the things that most libertarians believe and then things that social conservatives believe, and is there a conflict, as many young christians now believe. i spent a lot of time on college campuses. a lot of the 18 to 21-year-old christians in the united states are convinced that capitalism and free enterprise is
fundamentally incompatible with being a christian. that is they think our economic system is fundamentally immoral and contradicts with the christian world view. those are i think the two most potent and dangerous conflicts i think we have to deal with if we're really going to have in the conservative movement not nearly a marriage of convenience or a marriage of inconvenience, but intellectual program that we can stand firm on and that we can come together on in the public square to transform the public square. in the book "indivisible" james and i argue in terms of the diagnosis about what is happening in our culture, something like 86% of the population self-identifies as christian and a sizable number beyond that actually subscribe to the idea that there is a creator and we are endowed by our create were certain inalienable rights. if that's true, most of the population are thits, jews, christians, like that. how has it that the demands of
culture have been almost entirely occupied by the secular left? what exactly has happened? in the first century, a small band of persecuted christians were hounded and tortured and killed by the roman empire. and yet within three centuries, they had transformed western civilization and the roman empire itself. now if they can do that, why is it that some 86% of us can't manage to turn the culture around? well, we think the reason that we can't do that is because we spend a lot of time fighting amongst ourselves. so what i want to talk about for just a couple of minutes before i hand things over to james is this tension that some people see between social conservatives and fiscal conservatives, and this tension between capitalism and judeo-christian world view. right at the 2008 election there was a debate among conservatives about whose fault it was that we lost the elect. and a lot of people were sniping at each other. so you got so-called fiscal conservatives or libertarians were attacking the social conservatives and saying if we
hadn't been saddled with this debate about gay marriage or pro-life issue, we could have won this election. and it went back and forth. but i found this quote online in one of these debates. it's a perfect distillation of the complaint. i'm going to call it the libertarian complaint, not because all libertarians think this way, but there is a sizable group of people in the republican party that do see hit the way. this is what this guy said. he said social conservatives need to understand that moderates, libertarians, small government conservatives, national security conservatives generally share their values on the issues of lower taxes, reducing government spending, strong defense, gun control, but that the social conservatives' positions on abortion, gay rights, et cetera are seen as government intrusion on personal liberty based on a particular religious belief system. okay. so do you see its point? what he is saying if you belief in limited government and individual rights and things like that, things that conservatives are supposed to believe in, you're actually being inconsistent if you think
the government ought to also take a pro-life position, or that it ought to also recognize the traditional view of marriage. they're saying that's intellectually inconsistent. you can believe in limited government or you can believe in this sort of aught authoritarian idea, but you can't do both. i think that's a much more important kind of intellectual disagreement that we want to resolve rather than the sort of things that the left might want to foist upon us. a lot of people -- i talked to some people this weekend that have expressed something like this idea. so let's just talk for a few minutes about what i would call the tough cases. so for the person that sees himself as a fiscal conservative or libertarian, the tough cases are fairly obvious. they're life, marriage, and religious freedom. so let's just take life. i won't spend -- i can't cover all of these. but let's see if we can show that even given what libertarians believe, they ought to be pro-life. in fact, i would go farther. i would say if libertarians
believe what they claim to believe about individual dignity and rights, and that a state must recognize that, you can get from that to a defense of traditional marriage that is recognized by the state. now the argument is a little more long and complicated. so let's just take life this morning. so here is the question. if you think of yourself as a libertarian and you believe the government ought to be limited, the question is what limits the state? what is the thing that makes the government limited? what are we talking about when we say that? well, obviously we're talking about this idea that the government, the state has some core competence of things it's supposed to do and other things it's not supposed to do. it has a proper jurisdiction, and then there is areas that it really has no jurisdiction over. well, the short answer of what limits the state is what you might call philosophically prepolitical realities. that's probably a construction you haven't heard before. but what i'm talking about when i say prepolitical realities is if a government is limited, it recognizes that there are things out there already in the world
that are just in limited government recognitions. it doesn't define those things. it doesn't redefine them, it simply recognizes those prepolitical realities that were out there already existing before a political experiment ever got off the ground. and of course the most important prepolitical reality that most libertarians emphasize is the individual, right? now remember, every president -- i've been able to find quotes certainly from george washington, but from fdr all the way to president obama. and all of them say things like this -- the government does not give us our rights, we get our rights from god and a just and limited government simply recognizes those rights. that's a hugely important way of putting it. it's exactly how thomas jefferson put it in the declaration of independence, right? we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. in other words, those things, those individuals with natures
and rights, those exist prior to the state. the state doesn't define what those are. if a state is limited, it simply recognizes that there are individuals that have a proper domain of autonomy and freedom that a just government must recognize. this is exactly the opposite of the progressive sort of understanding of the individual, and certainly the communist understanding of the individual. in the 20th century, certainly soviet communism argued that there wasn't anything like an individual with inherent rights. rather, the individual only has existence and meaning and purpose in so far as it's a part of the state collective, right. it's a fundamentally different view of what the human person is. if you're a libertarian that believes in limited government, you already believe there is something outside the state that it simply must recognize there is at least one prepolitical reality, right, the individual. so no one would say i don't think the government should get in to the individual business, you know, let's kind of stay out of our lives.
i happen to think individuals have rights, but, you know, some people don't think that so live and let live. we wouldn't see that as a libertarian position. we'd see that as anarchy. in fact the whole point of the experiment is it limits the things outside of it. it's so important because even ayn rand, the hard-core atheist and ardent defender of capitalism in the 20th century said this. remember, rand was an atheist, and yet she could say this. "man, every man is an end in himself and not a means to the ends of others." now i don't know where rand got that in her world view. i'm a christian and an american and i say yes, exactly. we're made in the image of god. we're ends in ourselves. we're not simply tools for other people to use. so rand herself believed in the inherent dignity and value of the individual. well, guess what?
that's precisely the same foundation of the pro-life argument. now rand herself was rabidly pro-choice, but she was pro-choice not by saying well, the unborn are humans, but it's okay to murder. what she did is she believed this pseudo scientific theory in which she thought that the unborn child went through different stages. so at one stage was fish and a reptile, this sort of crazy stuff that no one seriously believes. she thought if you kill an unborn being inside the womb of its mother, you're not actually killing a human. she had a way around this, but she was inconsistent. but she still believed in the inherent dignity of the individual. now a lot of people say yeah, if you're pro-life, you're basically imposing some kind of religious idea on the question. that's not true. if you read the literature, the sort of debate over the pro-life issue, you'll never find anyone talking about theological questions such as when does the soul enter the body and things like that. in fact, all you need to get from the inherent dignity and
value of the individual, which a state must protect to the pro-life case is a little clear thinking and basic biology. every one of you was at one point in time an embryo. every one of you at one time was a fetus. every one of you was at one point a preborn child and a newborn and an infant and a toddler and a child and a teenager. what are those things? are we describing different realities? of course not. we're simply describing different stages in development of the same identical individual through time. and so if each of us are humans and we are identical with something that was once an embryo or a fetus, then whatever that is by definition it has to be human. and in fact if you actually look at the biology, there is no nonarbitrary way of excluding a preborn human being from the sort of class of people that are
members of the human race. you get all sorts of kind of ad hoc justifications. well, the child, this being is dependent on another for its existence. it's small. it's not self-aware, weird things like this. but we would never use this criteria to divine other people out of existence, right? we don't think that people are smaller than others they're less valuable. we don't think a small just born also dependent on its mother, that doesn't mean it's not hume ooh man. you need a commitment to the inherent dignity of the individual, and then the basic libertarian idea that the main job of the state is to protect human beings and human individuals from molestation and destruction at the hands of others. libertarian is not an anarchist. libertarian believes the state has a role and it's supposed to recognize these realities out there and protect them. so you can actually get from the libertarian sort of world view straight to i think a pro-life cause fairly easily. you can also do it, believe it or not, when you're talking about marriage.
because there is other prepolitical realities. the problem is sometimes people think the only thing the government ought to recognize are individuals. and there is nothing else out there. but, you know, if you look around, there is at least three other prepolitical realities. there is the church, the family and the institution of marriage. in fact, the institution of marriage is more universal historically than the american ideal of individual rights. in every time, place, and religion that we know of, those places have all recognized the fundamental institution, a human institution based in human nature there is diversity, of course. polygamy would be the most sort of radical diversity. but you can still if you study these different cultures, whether you're in england or papua, new guinea, marriage is always understood as having something to do with a public commitment of a man and a woman who are complimentary beings coming together in a public covenant for the bearing and the raising of children. that's what the word marriage in
english has meant. and every other language has some word for referring to that institution. so if that's what marriage is, then we need a word for it. and so whatever you think about homosexuality or same-sex partnerships or whatever, there is still this reality out there in the world that is universal. so what that means is if a government is limited and just, just as it recognizes the reality of individuals, it will also recognize the prepolitical reality of a universal institution such as marriage. so you see the point? a tolerant government will do that. it's not a tolerant act for a state to decide that it's going to irrigate to itself to redefine an institution that pre-exists. just as it wouldn't be to redefine what the human individual is. that's actually a totalitarian
act. if a government is just and limited it will recognize those realityies outside of itself. above all the institution of the family. you see the point? that argument doesn't require that we get into a debate on theology. it doesn't require that we try and interpret genesis 1. we're simply going from the belief that a limited government recognizes those things outside its jurisdiction, and then you kind of think for a while about what those things are, and you get straight from a commitment to limited government to a government that recognizes the rights of unborn human beings and the legitimacy and reality of the institution of marriage. that doesn't convince everyone, but i think anyone that thinks of themselves as a libertarian thinks consistently and clearly, not sort of rabidly pro-choice ought to see the wisdom in this. this is important because we have to learn how to think together. james and i want to have -- wanted to develop an argument in "indivisible" that gives a set
of arguments that all of us can identify and think alike and see why we need to go together. there is a lot of cross connections. let me give you one. the number one predictor of childhood poverty in the united states is whether there is a father in the home of that child or not. in other words, annick issue, whether a child lives in poverty in this country is determined by a so-called social or moral issue, the health of the family. these things simply can't be separated. so now let's take the kind of other side of the argument, though, this moral dilemma that really a lot of young christians actually see. we saw it in the occupy wall street movement, which i don't think they accomplished a lot, but they did accomplish this new way of speaking in which people were talking in terms of the 99% and the 1%. there is a very prevalent idea. and a lot of people think look, if we're created equal, how just is it that some people have a lot more money than others? we have this in our language,
right? some people get more than their fair share. the rich get richer. the poor get poorer. a lot of people, i assure you, millions of people, millions of college students that are otherwise christians and may be theologically conservative nevertheless think that an economic system that allows inequality is immoral. so what do we say about that? well, what i would argue is when people see economic inequality and immediately think it's immoral, they think they're making a moral judgment, but what they're doing is they're connecting an observation and a legitimate moral intuition about human equality with a bad understanding of the reality of economics. and because they do that, they misunderstand what is happening in the economy as a whole. well, jonathan mentioned that i learned everything that i needed to know in economics in kindergarten. i do say that in this book. it's actually really more or less the sixth grade. because what people are doing when they think that inequality is unjust is they are assuming
that our economy that a free trade economy in a zero sum game. a zero sum game is a word from game theory. many of you may have heard it before. all it means is a zero sum game is a win-lose game that means the logic of the rules are such that if one person wins, somebody else has to lose. you know, football, baseball, basketball, chess, checkers, most of the games we play. it's just the logic of the game. if there is one person that is going to win, another person has to lose. so it sums to zero, win/lose. you can imagine there are at least two other kinds of games there is win/lose or zero sum. there is lose/lose, games where everyone that plays ends up worse off as a result. we don't play those games a lot, or at least more than once, obviously. once you do it's like why are we doing that? that would be a lose/lose game. not a lot of examples. if there is win/lose and lose/lose, in theory there have to be win/win games.
not a game where everyone ends up equally well off. it's a game in which everyone that plays over time ends up better off than they would have been if they hadn't played. so the comparison is not between me and the guy across the street with a ferrari, the comparison is between me in a free economy and me if i were in an unfree economy. and if we are better off as a result of a certain type of economic system, and all of us end up better off, then we're in a win/win game. so the question is what is a free market economy? well, what is funny about this is the second you sort of ask it, you can answer it. it's a fairly simple illustration. and that is what i learned in the sixth grade. in the sixth grade, we were in from recess one day, and our teacher apparently anticipated the bad weather because she came in to class with toys, probably bought in a dollar bin somewhere at a department store and passed out these toys one by one to each of the students. these were all things like silly putty egg, paddle ball, barbie trading cards, things like this.
so she passed them out to the members of the class. so look around. we looked around. everybody had a different toy. and she said okay. i want you to compare your toy between what everybody else. write down between 1 and 10. if you really like your toy, give it a 10. if you hate it, trade it for something else, give it a 1. it's up to you. we all wrote down our numbers on a piece of paper. then she had us call out the numbers. she added up the total and put them on the board, right? let's say, i don't remember the number. let's say it was 75. now in first round of the game you can freely trade with anyone else that is in your row. so think of this as sort of five rows of five seats to keep it simple. so what that meant is each of us had four potential trading partners. but notice she said you can freely trade with anyone that is in your row. what does that mean? does that mean i'm free to clock the smaller kid over the head and take his toy? no, of course not. if it's free, it means it's free on both sides. it means it's only going to happen if both people want to
trade. you can imagine there were a few trades people trading in the row, but not a lot of activity. once it settled down, she said now grade the toy you have in your hand. she had us do that. we called out the number again and she wrote the number on the board. guess what happened? you heard me tell the story, you know what happened. the number went up. now this might seem obvious, but i would maintain this is one of the greatest mysteries in the universe right here. nothing new has been added to the system, right? it really got interesting in the second round. she said now you can freely trade with everyone else in the room. so suddenly you can imagine the pandemonium that results if you know anything about networks, because everybody has potential 24 potential trading partners initially and lots of secondary trades. mass chaos as kids are trading stuff. it finally settles down. she has us call out the numbers again. she adds up the total one last time. and you know what happen, right? the number went way, way up. now what is happening? think about it for a minute. there is an initial input of stuff, in this case the toys.
and then all we had was a system of rules in which the rules determine what we could and could not do. and it mimicked free trade. notice this was not anarchy. people didn't get to do whatever they wanted to do. there was a rule of law in place. the teacher enforced it. we're in a school. so we knew we couldn't steal from each other. we couldn't threaten other. if we're going the trade, that would channel our activities. and that rule of law channeled our activities into engagements that by definition were win/win. the trade never takes place unless both people taking the trade, it's a free trade, see themselves better off as a result. so in other words, just the very logic of the system of the free market is such that if it's really free, people that engage in it are going to benefit. and the more people that engage in it, the more everyone benefits as a result. i find that sort of a profound discovery. i played this in the sixth grade. i confess i didn't figure out
the point until about 30 years later. but i realized this is the genius of the free market. so simply by thinking about the logic of the game of the rules, we realize that it's win/win. in that case all we're talking about is the system of trade and the rules. nothing new has been added to the system. the great news is, though, that very often stuff is added to the system. right? we create wealth. now here is this other intellectual problem, because a lot of people will think of the economy as a pie, right, like a cherry pie. and if you're thinking of it that way, again, you're thinking of it as a zero sum game. if the pie, some person gets a quarter of the pie, it's going to leave fewer pieces of the pie for everyone else. and in fact -- yeah, i've got a slide here. a lot of people think of the economy this way. it's sort of the finite fixed sum. it might sound silly, but in the 20th century, half the human race languished under a system that believed this is what the economy is like.
if you read the communist manifesto, carl marx argued that capitalism would destroy itself. the reason he said that is under a capitalist system you might start out with a group of people in the population -- let's say the prolateriat, the workers have most. but over time what happens is the wealth gets transferred more and more into the hands of fewer of these capitalists individuals, or the bourgeois that were described until near the end you get to a point in which the vast majority of the wealth is in the hands of a few capitalists, and the vast majority of the population has little or nothing to show for it. and so when you get -- let's go one more here. when you get to this stage, what marx says if you get a violent revolution, because obviously that purple, that's the vast majority of the wealth in the hands of a few guys. and the little tiny slice, that's the wealth in the hands of the majority of the
population. so marx predicted in the communist manifesto that you're going to get a revolution. the state will con face state the means of production and that's call socialism. here in the socialism the state owns everything. that's what the marxists thought. it's certainly what marx thought. no society unfortunately got past this stage. what is interesting is the very moment marx was writing the communist manifesto, a few miles away in the factories in britain the salaries of the workers were going up rather than down. now under marxist assumptions, that is impossible, impossible. and so it was already refuted before he had even written the book. but how is that possible? well, it's possible, of course, because in certain kind of economists, we don't just trade beneficially, but we create things that weren't there. we create wealth that wasn't there before. we all know, this right?
but if you want to think of it as a pie, the market reality is quite different. it's like a pie that grows. i don't tumly know of any pie like that. i actually think the view of this is inaccurate. but if you want to think of the wealth as a pie, think of it this way. this is the market reality. all right, the pie grows. i know you're stunned by the prowess of this power point animation. this is the best can do. i've never taken a power point course. i know a lot of people are visual learners. the pie is growing. this is a very mysterious thing. how is this possible? how is this possible? i mean pies don't grow. how do economies grow? isn't wealth just stuff like real estate and gold and things like that? the first thing to notice is this is possible. what this means is somebody could get fabulously wealthy not by taking money from someone else or wealth from someone else. >> but by creating wealth for themselves and others. the late steve jobs did not g